Child Abduction

Child Abduction Solicitors London

Osbornes Law has a team of specialist child abduction solicitorss. We represent parents whose children have been removed without consent or parents who have removed their children from the jurisdiction. We can also help if there is a threat of imminent removal of a child.

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  • “Osbornes has incredible strength in depth across every area of family law, from public law children and child abduction proceedings, through to adoption and surrogacy, and private client work”

  • “The lawyers at Osbornes are very well established and have a lot of experience between them, which gives them a lot of confidence and a willingness to think out of the box.”

Leading child abduction solicitors in England

Child abduction can result from family breakdown where one parent has family outside England and Wales and returns to that family with their children without the consent of either the other parent (referred to as the “left behind parent”) or permission of the Court. Similarly, a parent might come to England and Wales with the children on a family breakdown without the left-behind parent’s consent or the court’s permission in the foreign jurisdiction.

If parents believe there is an imminent risk of abduction, emergency steps can be taken to prevent the removal and protect the child. Urgent legal advice should be sought immediately. Public Funding is usually available.

How to prevent the abduction of a child

If you are concerned that the other parent may try to abduct your child or permanently remove him/her from the UK, we can apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order, a Residence order and/or a Parental Responsibility order as is most appropriate to your case. This will state that your child cannot be taken out of the UK and may even require surrendering your child’s passport and /or the parent’s passport you fear may be planning to abduct your child.

We can also assist you in alerting the police so that your child’s details can be circulated to the relevant authorities, such as all ports and border agents.

If the parent you fear may abduct your child has dual citizenship, we can help you draft a letter to the embassy or consulate of any other country where the other parent may attempt to obtain a passport for your child. We can ask them not to issue a passport, although we cannot force them to.

How to recover an abducted child from a foreign country

If your child has been taken to an EU country which subscribes to the Hague Convention or the European Convention, an application can be made to the country your child has been taken to for your child to be returned.

Generally speaking, these conventions recognise that the court in the state of the child’s habitual residence is the most appropriate forum for decisions relating to the child’s residence and other issues affecting the child’s life.

If your child has been taken to a country that does not subscribe to these international agreements, we can assist you in making your child a Ward of Court and obtaining advice on the laws in the country where your child has been taken and how to make an application in that country for your child’s return. It may also be possible for the assets of the abductor to be seized in this country and/or for the committal of the abductor to prison.

Why choose our child abduction solicitors

We specialise in child abduction cases. The head of this team, Lauren Hall, is a member of an exclusive panel of lawyers instructed in child abduction work by the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit at the Official Solicitor’s Department. This means Simone is recognised as a leading child abduction lawyer in England.

If you are worried that your child is under threat of being abducted or has already been abducted, contact our child abduction solicitors urgently for assistance. You can call us or fill in an online form, and we will reply.

Contact a Child Abduction Lawyer Today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    Child Abduction FAQs

    What is classed as child abduction in the UK?

    In the UK, Child abduction is the unlawful taking or removal of a child under age 16 (18 in some cases) from the custody of a person with parental responsibility. It involves taking a child and keeping them away without the consent of their legal guardian or parent. Child abduction is a criminal offence under UK law.

    What actions are considered to be child abduction?

    Child abduction encompasses a range of actions, including taking a child out of the country without the consent of the person with parental responsibility, refusing to return a child after an agreed visit or custody arrangement, and keeping a child away from their legal guardian or parent against their wishes.

    Are there different types of child abduction in the UK?

    Two main categories of child abduction are recognised in the UK: “parental child abduction” and “stranger child abduction.” Parental child abduction occurs when one parent takes the child without the other parent’s consent, often in family disputes. Stranger child abduction involves someone, not a parent or guardian, unlawfully taking a child.

    What legal consequences can child abductors face?

    Child abduction is a criminal offence in the UK. Those guilty of child abduction can face serious legal consequences, including imprisonment. The exact penalties depend on the case’s circumstances, the abductor’s intent, and the harm caused to the child.

    What legal measures are available to prevent child abduction?

    Various legal measures are in place to prevent child abduction, such as obtaining court orders like a Prohibited Steps Order. These orders can specify custody arrangements and prohibit specific actions, making it illegal for a parent or guardian to take the child without consent.

    What should I do if I suspect child abduction?

    If you suspect a child has been abducted, you should contact the police immediately. The police work closely with organisations, such as the National Crime Agency (NCA) and INTERPOL, to locate and return children who have been abducted. Our child abduction solicitors can help you explore legal options.

    Are there international laws governing child abduction cases?

    International treaties such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provide a framework for the swift return of abducted children to their country of residence. The UK is a signatory to this convention.

    What is a child abduction warning notice?

    A Child Abduction Warning Notice (CAWN) is a formal legal tool used in the UK to help prevent child abduction or unauthorised removal of a child from the country. The police issue it to raise awareness about the potential risk of child abduction to the child’s custodial parent or guardian. The notice is intended to provide information and advice about the potential risk and to encourage them to take necessary precautions.

    Key points about Child Abduction Warning Notices include the following:

    • The police typically issue a CAWN in cases where there is credible information suggesting that there might be a risk of a child being taken abroad without consent.
    • The notice usually contains details about the potential risk, such as information about the individual believed to pose the risk, any prior incidents or concerns, and other relevant information. It’s meant to give the parent or guardian a clear understanding of the situation.
    • Alongside the information, the CAWN provides advice on steps the parent or guardian can take to safeguard the child’s well-being and prevent unauthorised removal. This advice might include being cautious about travel plans and notifying relevant authorities if there are concerns.
    • A CAWN is not a legally binding order or injunction. Instead, it is a warning and advisory document. It is intended to help parents or guardians be informed about the potential risks and take appropriate measures to protect the child.
    • The police and other relevant organisations might also work with the recipient of the CAWN to provide ongoing support and guidance. They can help the parent or guardian understand their legal rights and responsibilities and offer assistance in taking protective measures.
    • Child Abduction Warning Notices are issued under Section 47 of the Family Law Act 1986 and Section 2 of the Child Abduction Act 1984.

    It’s important to note that a CAWN is not the same as a court order, such as a Prohibited Steps Order or a Child Arrangements Order, which are legally binding and can be enforced by the courts. If you have serious concerns about child abduction, obtaining a court order might be necessary. Our child abduction solicitors can help with this.

    • "Their family department is very strong, from adoption to child abduction and matrimonial finance, this is a very strong team."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Simone is absolutely on top of the game. She has great attention to detail, and has her clients' needs at heart."

      Chambers UK

    • Simone McGrath is a highly knowledgeable practitioner with a focus on international child abduction matters. She has a large expertise in public and private law.

      Chambers UK

    • Simone McGrath handles international child abduction cases and challenging care proceedings relating to non-accidental injuries.

      Chambers UK


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